Three Things Every Entrepreneur Needs To Remember When Dealing With Depression
The dawn of the new year offers the chance to start fresh, explore exciting opportunities, and improve on past performance.
Despite the underlying optimism that accompanies a new beginning, however, many people can’t help but feel anxious and depressed during this time of year.
Perhaps it’s the frigid weather, or maybe it’s the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with new beginnings. Regardless of the cause, this is a time of the year when depression and anxiety tend to spike, particularly for entrepreneurs.
In the past two weeks alone, I’ve received over ten emails from people around the globe seeking advice for how to deal with the emotional roller coaster that is entrepreneurship.
With that in mind, I thought it might be an appropriate time to share an excerpt from my latest book, “Enlightened Entrepreneurship,” in the hope that it provides solace to fellow entrepreneurs who might be suffering from fear, depression, and anxiety.
Depression is a huge problem among entrepreneurs, and it's time we did something about it. I hope that sharing a few things I’ve learned along my entrepreneurial journey can help others navigate difficult situations as well.
You are not alone
Business Insider recently published an interesting article about the depression epidemic in the startup community.
According to the article, only 7% of the general population report suffering from depression, but a whopping 30% of founders report dealing with its effects. That statistic is staggering but entirely believable.
Entrepreneurship is a deeply personal journey, and it's incredibly difficult to separate your identity from the business that you're trying to create. Soon, business setbacks (of which there are many) seem like personal setbacks, and depression can quickly take root.
The key is always to strive to keep things in perspective. Life, like business, is a journey full of ups and downs. When talking to entrepreneurs going through a rough patch, I often encourage them to think back to high school.
For most of us, there were moments in our high school lives that seemed to be monumentally important that in retrospect seem childish. At the time, of course, the pain and anxiety that you experienced were real and raw.
However, the more distance you gain from the situation, the less painful it becomes. While the problems that you're facing right here and right now may seem insurmountable, it's important to realize these too will pass and fade in time.
Take a long-term view
When you’re navigating a cash crunch or facing the painful reality that your company is not going to survive in its current form, it’s easy to feel like the world is crashing down around you.
The truth, however, is that our lives tend to be long and full of twists and turns. What seems like an earth-shattering development at one point in time may be perceived very differently in the future.
Put another way, we just never know what life has in store for us.
Wherever you're at this point in your life, there is a very good chance that your current endeavor will not be your last. In fact, many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world hit their stride on the second or third attempt.
Consider the case of Mark Cuban. Before he struck it big by selling his business to Yahoo, Cuban had a string of failures.
After failing as a cook, carpenter, and even a waiter he remarked, "I've learned that it doesn't matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all."
The lesson here is that there are second (and third and fourth) acts in life, and it's important to take a long-term view of things, even when it feels like your world is ending.
Ask for help
I'm fortunate in the sense that I have a fantastic support network I can call on when I need help. My family and friends are always there when I need them, whether it's to listen to my struggles or to lend a hand. Not everyone is as lucky.
Entrepreneurs need to be able to reach out and get help when they need it. This can be difficult in a world where everyone feels the need to be "crushing it" all the time.
Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, which leads to people simply keeping their difficulties to themselves.
We in the entrepreneur community need to change this mentality. People should feel free to get help without the fear of judgment, and it's going to take a few brave influencers to initiate the change.
I know a few people in the industry who care about this deeply, including Structure Capital (a team of high-profile venture investors based out of San Francisco), but more are needed.
There are good people out there who want to help. It's just a matter of having the courage to reach out.
There will be bumps and setbacks on any entrepreneurial journey, but remember that you're not alone. Keep your challenges in perspective and live to fight another day. No matter how dark a situation looks, it never is as bad as it seems.
Most importantly, don't be afraid to get help. If you find yourself without anyone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always happy to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and lend an ear when needed.
Entrepreneurs have to accept the fact that the odds are stacked against their success. Most new business ventures fail, and even those that are eventually successful take a long time to get off the ground.
Setbacks will outnumber successes, and there's a good chance that most days will be stressful. That's the game we chose to play and the ability to embrace these realities is what makes us entrepreneurs.